Business bodies are unhappy about reports that the government is considering giving new fathers a right to six months unpaid paternity leave.
A new Bill on work and families, due to be announced this week, is expected to contain the provision, although the leave could only be taken only if the child’s mother has returned to work.
The British Chambers of Commerce warned that the scheme could be an administrative nightmare for small firms.
The Equal Opportunities Commission said that babies were the “workers of the future” and more should be done to increase ways of caring for them.
Under the current law new fathers are entitled to two weeks paternity leave, and new mothers to six months, which will be extended to a year by 2009.
British Chambers of Commerce director general, David Frost, said: “Plans to extend parental leave could be an administrative nightmare and could leave firms without key staff for long periods of time.”